In the face-chilling, hand-freezing, blustery cold of a January night, who could have pictured these blossoms and flowers? In winter, many do not notice the gnarly branches of a crabapple or pear tree or the twisting limbs of a lilac bush, though they possess their own character and loveliness. Yet, there they are, strong, upright, swaying in a stiff wind or covered under snow.
Then the day comes, one we cannot time or set an alarm for by our human clocks. The tiny deep blossoms of a crabapple tree in the city park or on a campus shoot forth, seemingly appearing overnight, or the orchard of a local apple grower suddenly has rows and rows of white, tender, and glorious blossoms flowing in a warm breeze.
The springtime blossoming and flowering are of untold, exquisite, and often short-lived beauty. (Part 1 focused on their exquisiteness.) The apple and cherry blossoms, gracing a landscape with white and pink that just a month earlier was winter-worn, bloom one to two weeks or so. The longer-lasting visits from flowering trees, such as the deep reddish purple of an Eastern redbud, can last a few weeks before giving way fully to green.
In each blossom and flower lies the principle of fleeting beauty and eternal truth. In the blossoms and flowers lay deeper verities, whether lush magnolia blossom, tiny woodland violet, or delicate dogwood flower, about life’s cycles of dormancy and rebirth, endings and beginnings, stillness and motion, dark and light, bold hues after subdued color. “If spring were in the teaching business, which it isn’t, we would now be hearing a basic lecture on philosophy,” wrote naturalist and author Hal Borland. “All the elements are there, spring after spring, and all we have to do is supply the words and attend their meaning.”
Spring’s beauty – in hundreds of manifestations – calls us to notice, but doesn’t hang around to see if we have. Many flowers appear for several days, or a couple or few weeks perhaps, and then change over, with a tenacious insistence that life moves forward. The season’s gifts and richness, though deep in pleasure and lesson, exist in this moment.
April and May move inexorably to June and July, a quick pacing of natural forces that culminate and settle in to summer fullness. Spring humbles humanity because we cannot make its reappearance happen each year, no more than we can dictate a route and create a timetable for the hummingbird who alights at the backyard feeder or the marsh wren who glorifies a morning in Manhattan’s Bryant Park with song. However, we participate as we can and see in our surroundings a mirror for our life’s seasons and resilience. In their singularly stunning moments, here today but not forever, the blossoms and flowers encapsulate timeless truths.
Pink flowers brighten the front of a Jersey City office building.
The brief and lovely bursting of crabapple buds in the Hudson Valley
Today’s blossoms where the late-summer and autumn apples will be